19 December 2009

Daily Chat 19/12/09

Henry II was crowned in 1154.  Apollo 17, the last manned lunar flight, returned to Earth in 1972.  Sixteen people were lost at sea in the Penlee lifeboat disaster in 1981.  The original FIFA World Cup trophy was stolen from the headquarters of the Brazilian Football Confederation in Rio de Janeiro in 1983.

Born today:  Ralph Richardson (1902-1983), Jean Genet (1910-1986), Édith Piaf (1915-1963), Limahl (1958), Jake Gyllenhaal (1980), Gary Cahill (1985), Ryan Babel (1986) and Karim Benzema (1987).

It is Liberation Day in Goa.


  1. Padam Padam

    Je ne regrette rien

    Now, I let all that dissing of Jane go by the other day without opening up a can of whoop-ass on y'all, but I'm giving you fair warning that I will brook no criticism of Édith. Y'hear?

  2. Ach she was OK with a drink in her was Edie


  3. Morning everybody.

    For all friends of UT travelling home or away for the festive break this weekend - safe journey and have good time.

    PrincessCC Glad to read that you've got an appointment, I told you it was a much better option than acting as Chiropodist to your man's toenails. Sensible lassess deserve a prize....

    {holds up miseltoe} - xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.....

    I suspect that you would agree that the following news could not pass without comment:

    "....The sign, cast by camp prisoners, which offered the cynical welcome to new inmates "Arbeit Macht Frei" (work sets you free) and stands as a potent symbol of the suffering millions endured at the camp, is believed to have been removed by a gang in what authorities called a meticulously planned robbery...."

    In genuine deference to your solid and tireless contributions to the exposing of the shameful shady activities in Incapacity Benefit medicals I have not posted on the subject.

    May I suggest something along the following lines:-

    "The news that the "Arbeit Macht Frei" (work sets you free) sign stolen from Auschwitz is being looked for at Atos Healthcare and the Department for Work & Pensions is not a cruel joke.

    Nor is the rumour that the theft is the nocturnal work of the uber creep Mandelson's mate James Mark Dakin Purnell, (aka little shit), Member of Parliament, for Stalybridge and Hyde"

    Please feel free to amend and post as you see fit.

  4. {holds up miseltoe} - to \Montana too

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx...that Edith lady sings my song.

  5. Glad to see you decided to join UT Gandolfo
    thanx for nit advice. Have purchased a nit comb - if nothing else it's a wonderful scratching tool!

  6. James Mark Dakin Purnell

    His parents obviously couldn't spell Dalek.

    Have posted something similar on WDYWTTA - but no doubt it will have been removed by the time the moderators wipe the sleep from their eyes and get down to the day's thought-cleansing operations.

  7. Beautiful sunrise over snow covered fields this morn.

    What is great about living in an open field is that the sun acts as a gigantic clock/calendar.

    I watch the sunrise most clear mornings at this time of the year. I like to plot the movement of the rising point from North to South until it reaches the turning, in two days time at the winter solstice, when it starts the journey back from South to North. Bring it on!

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Good morning happy UTers

    so much for me getting out of the house early - I slept right through, as the snow muffles the usual traffic noise that would wake me on a Saturday morning at a reasonable hour.

    Ah well - I will get my special SMERSH steel-capped shoes with the spikes in the toes in readiness for dealing with the crowds in the shopping centre.... Muahahahahah!

  10. Morning all!
    Hi deano glad you got the comb bloody hate nits my ex partners girl use to get them regularily and hence me! You could always shave ya 'ead but I guess it's a bit chilly for that!

    As for your comment on Purnell Atomboy still there! And according to the news they've got sniffer dogs on the case... Deano I believe you have hounds there not yours are they?

  11. Atomboy, from yesterday:

    the best way to keep politicians in line would be to set up oversight or scrutiny committees or whatever you want to call them in constituencies to act as a bridge between power and the people

    While I’m sure your motives for suggesting this idea are worthy, I fear you’re being a little naïve.

    They are our fucking servants and it is our fucking country

    For those of us who are British, we are, both in law and in practice, the subjects of the Crown. It’s not our fucking country, and we are, to all intents and purposes, their fucking servants.

    Those who are lucky (?) enough to be citizens of a republic are slightly better off in law, though I suspect not significantly better off in practice.

    The ruling class doesn’t want a bridge between power and the people, it wants and has a variety of obstacles of various sorts. Anything else is just window dressing.

    The British state exists to serve the interests of British capitalism, to the extent that such a thing still exists in this globalised world, just as the US state exists to serve the interests of American capitalism, etc, etc.

    And that, as I was saying the other day, is why there was never a polar bear’s chance in a desert of anything meaningful coming out of Copenhagen (apart from scherfig’s comments, obviously), and why I’m afraid your scrutiny committees could never be anything more than a toothless illusion of “people power”.

    In the end, it really is the economy, “stupid”.

    I’ll happily concur with your last line:

    Now, rather than admiring what others do, start growing backbones and do what you want to do

    as long as you can come up with some more realistic suggestions.

  12. They wiped mine comparing BTH to Noseybonk, though. Guess he's still hovering. *Waves at BTH*

  13. "For those of us who are British, we are, both in law and in practice, the subjects of the Crown. It’s not our fucking country, and we are, to all intents and purposes, their fucking servants."
    Is this still true, though? I always assumed it was, then someone told me/I read somewhere that it had been altered and that we are technically citizens now. Does anyone know the constitutional position?
    'Course, you can argue it makes diddly squat difference.

  14. andysays

    Yes, this is notionally the case, but we also all know that the Queen is never going to line up random people who have not curtsied properly and have them publicly horsewhipped or shot.

    We also know that big business and banking rules the world, but when Distillers was refusing to pay compensation to Thalidomide victims and happily hiding safely behind the skirt of the law, all it took was the threat from Ralph Nader that he would arrange the boycotting of Distiller's products in America for their purse-strings to be miraculously loosened.

    There are more ways than one to skin a cat.

    You seem to be saying that if there is a sign saying: "Don't walk on the grass" that sign somehow magically changes the laws of physics and if you attempt the feat, you will be jettisoned into space, never to be seen again.

    How do you think people got the vote in the past or we came to have a common view that the earth is not, in fact, flat?

  15. andysays

    The ruling class doesn’t want a bridge between power and the people, it wants and has a variety of obstacles of various sorts. Anything else is just window dressing.

    The British state exists to serve the interests of British capitalism, to the extent that such a thing still exists in this globalised world, just as the US state exists to serve the interests of American capitalism, etc, etc.

    Again, we all know this.

    It is possible that if each constituency could gather together several hundred people who were interested enough to campaign or make a noise that this would be taken up by the media and people would notice that it is possible to have a democracy which is more participatory than the one we have today.

    As I mentioned, I have not given the matter a lot of thought, but your stance seems to be that it is better to give up before you try because the status quo is tough and resistant to change.

    We are then back to square one of the argument.

    We all give up because we cannot be guaranteed an easy win from the outset and someone in a position of authority might wag a severe finger in our faces and tell us off.

  16. "Does anyone know the constitutional position?"

    Sounds like a pub quiz question -

    UK Citizen/Subject ??

    and it probably is.

    "....The status of British subject cannot now be transmitted by descent, and will become extinct when all existing British subjects are dead......"

    Fegging cold here just back from walking the dogs. My breath froze into my beard - still gave me the chance to play Dr Zhivago...

  17. Atomboy - good to see you back here.

    I don't see Andy as a quitter. That said your observation on the force of a Nader response was something I was thinking about only the other day whilst out with the dogs.

    We have a model predicated on the idea that the consumer is King - we all need to make more of the idea and develop a better understanding of it's alleged role in our economic/political lives.

    Pushing the model/idea to its limits is a useful way of developing political/economic understanding. All the more of a pity that we don't any longer have an Army Education Corp educating the citizenry in preparation for the post war Jerusalem.

    I don't think that Naderism has yet fully run its course.

  18. Fencewalker:

    we are technically citizens now

    You may be right about this, now that we’re all Europeans as well as British, though if so, no one told me about it!


    The Queen wears a crown; the Queen is not “The Crown” in the legal sense.

    The Crown is the British state, which is not under the potentially arbitrary control of the monarch as it once was, but we are still subjects rather than citizens.

    But in the end, I would argue that it makes diddly squat difference.

    From the Marxist perspective, the parliamentary democratic form of government which we have is ultimately a fig leaf for the economic power of the capitalists.

    Again, we all know this

    I don’t think we do all know this, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many people surprised/disappointed when the Labour Party or the Democrats etc etc collude with business yet again.

    your stance seems to be that it is better to give up before you try because the status quo is tough and resistant to change

    My stance is that we ought to be clear about what we’re up against and not expect that relatively trivial reforms (though well-intentioned I’m sure) such as the one you mentioned will ever truly challenge the status quo.

    Ultimately I don’t believe that parliamentary democracy can be usefully reformed, I believe it has to be overthrown.

    Unfortunately I don’t have time to discuss this further today, so I’m going to have to leave you hanging, but I’m sure we can return to it in the future…

  19. andysays

    Ultimately I don’t believe that parliamentary democracy can be usefully reformed, I believe it has to be overthrown.

    Glad to hear you are not in the business of just frittering away around the edges, although I would have to say that your idea seems bigger and (probably) therefore less likely to happen than mine.

    Someone at the school gate said to me the other day: "Something big is going to happen. It cannot carry on like this. The question is who is going to throw the first stone. People like you and me have too much to lose."

    If I didn't mention it before, there is a thread on CiF connected with this today.

    I have also started something over here in case anyone wants to keep this idea going.

    By all means return to it in the future as well.

  20. there is also this today another take on the embryonic blob of empowerment from the Purnell stud stable of the Open Left project (that's a bloody misuse of the english language if ever I saw one)
    is it me or is this article virtually incomprehensible?

  21. LOL atomboy this is a classic wonder how long it will last!

  22. I missed this lot first time around:

    the real James Purnell

    so its thanks for the smile to:

    MerkinOnParis (for the link to the above in his post of )
    19 Dec 2009, 1:34PM

    "The Power Gap, the first research output of James Purnell's Open Left project, effectively maps the distribution of everyday power in Britain."

    And why should we take notice of anything that comes from The King of Bogus Journeys?

  23. Atomboy
    "It is possible that if each constituency could gather together several hundred people who were interested enough to campaign or make a noise that this would be taken up by the media and people would notice that it is possible to have a democracy which is more participatory than the one we have today."
    Brief response!
    That's of course assuming that to the media it's newsworthy! The media represents institutions directly or indirectly and, therefore, unless it's something that doesn't have a direct negative impact on them they will give whatever cause coverage.
    Power and accountability are two different faces of the same coin. Of course politicians are there because they have been voted for and are, therefore, accountable to the electorate and should be scrutinised. How that scrutiny should be carried out is another question. What if the politician isn't carrying out their mandate? Do those that scrutinise have the right to boot them out and vote someone else in in their place? This could be a means of extending power, through scrutiny, to the people.
    However power to the people is to me giving power to the people to decide how government works, how the economy works etc etc. No doubt a step towards this on a practical level would be by introducing referendums as they do in Switzerland,that would give people more sense of power through voting on issues both locally and nationally and also internationally.
    But my doubts about the effectiveness of this come with the fact that political democracy has, IMO, to be alongside that of economic democracy: shared ownership. And for this the only answer is a rejection of state capitalism!

  24. gandolfo

    The comment in connection with the media was more (in my mind, but the words probably led a life of their own) to do with being provocative. Politicians would hate the idea but would find it hard to say that people taking responsibility and interacting with decision making was wrong or improper.

    They would want to take over the show, but the point has to be that people are setting up something outside the normal power structures.

    The media, of course, cannot be trusted for a moment, so it is not a suggestion that they should be cuddled.

    Some Tory MPs - or wannabes - a year or two ago suggested that they should be subject to removal from office by their constituents during their term of office if enough people think they are making a hash of things.

    This has been mentioned quite a lot. Didn't Dave say he was all for it?

    This would all need to go hand-in-hand with the idea of cutting the Whips off at the knees and controlling Parliamentary lobbyists and preventing constituency MPs from becoming cabinet ministers.

    Business, of course, will only be controlled by money and not by any notions of conscience or morality.

    Politicians should be detached from business by ensuring that they cannot work in any company related to their department for at least ten years.

  25. They used to have a scrutiny of officials in ancient Athens at the end of their year of office to see if they'd misused public funds or misled the people. IIRC, it could lead to you being impeached or brought before the courts, again all made up of the people, who could be very ungentle if peeved. They were certainly far better at keeping individual politicians in check and accountable than we are.

  26. Evening everyone

    I arrived in Istanbul just as the sun was setting and as a crescent moon was rising between the minarets of the Blue Mosque - it was so beautiful I nearly wept.

    The Marmara sea is stuffed with shipping I didn't realise what an enormous port Istanbul is.

    We drove through the old town - Bru would go ballistic - the little shops are absolutely to die for - killims and turkish carpets everywhere and gorgeous pots.

    This small hotel in the old town is incredibly friendly and on top of everything and of course everyone speaks English. I have a Turkish phrase book but am not doing very well. Am posting this from a small cyber cafe they have in the foyer - all free and available to everyone.

    I think I like this place. I cannot tell you what a relief it is to be out of blighty.

  27. Hey Sheff

    Hope you have an absolutely fantastic time! Sounds like you are making a good start already xx

  28. Sheff Hi
    To say that I'm jealous is an understatement, if you get a chance on the Taksim side of the river along the promenade you can get great fresh batter fried fish butties and I highly recommend the underground roman cisterns enjoy it's a great city!

  29. I have a theory, which I thought I'd air to see just how ludicrous it is. It's called the What Do We Do With The Working Classes Theory (WDWDWTWCT for not-very-short).

    Briefly, it goes like this: pre- and post-WW2, you look at British movies of the time, the working classes were portrayed positively, perhaps even idealized. They were honest, hard-working and the very soul of the country. There were good reasons for this. Most people were working class people. They were necessary for the factories and heavy industries to keep producing. In short, they were the prime movers in creating the wealth of the country.

    Fast forward to the sixties. The working class are still represented in movies and on TV, but it's less about their indefagibility and more about social unrest and unease. Technology has now moved on, the factory worker, machinist and manual labourer is now a small part of the wealth creation process.

    Which brings us up to now. The working class is now more often than not seen as the underclass - i.e. the non-working class. Most everything is automated. The few jobs there are badly paid and usually done by immigrants.

    Now people such as Julie Burchill have noted the change from the working class being accorded much respect to a curled-lip sneer at them as chavs, loiterers, white trash etc., but that's not what the WDWDWTWCT is about.

    My theory is that as technology has made unskilled labour less and less important, politicians have signally failed the find a new purpose for them. You'll often see commentators (especially on the likes of The Guardian) talking about poverty, domestic violence, drugs, crime etc., etc and come up with nice ideas like a masters degree for everyone, community initiatives and all the rest of it.

    What they all fail to address is that the jobs that their horny-handed, salt-of-the-earth grandparents used to do are no longer there. They can be done for a fraction of the cost anywhere in Asia. You can't 'educate' everyone out of poverty as many will simply not have the academic ability. The only thing that will give cohesion and ownership back to communities is a reason to get up in the morning.

    But - and I just want to check if I'm wrong on this or not - when politicians ask 'What Do We Do With The Working Class Now?' the answer seems to be: nothing.

    There are countless initiatives, articles, studies etc about raising up the working class lot. Of course, for a decade New Labour decided the working class didn't exist and they've only recently magically made a reappearance in the New Labour universe when this previously declared extinct group started to take their votes elsewhere.

    But it seems to me that no politicians (and Cameron's Campassionate Conservatives seem no better) have addressed the fundamental question: WDWDWTWC?

    Technology has outstripped them. Wealth creation elsewhere has made it feasible to give them beer and fag money while the real action takes place elsewhere.

    In those societies that do have better social equality - Scandinavia for example - how do they deal with the basic problem of not enough jobs of honest toil for families of generations of honest toilers?

    New Labour and the Tories basically seem content to shunt them off to one side, make concerned noises at them occasionally and concentrate their efforts elsewhere.

  30. Fencewalker, despite your current civil behaviour and your curiosity, you are on record as referring to me as "that turd BTH" and as such you'll understand why I don't intend to address your questions directly. You will however be able to garner some answers from any future posts I make here and which are allowed to remain long enough for you to read them.

  31. Atomboy- when andysays said:

    Ultimately I don’t believe that parliamentary democracy can be usefully reformed, I believe it has to be overthrown.

    He is absolutely right, but there is a case for campaigning for reforms, they may well work for a while but until we get rid of the m the ruling class will always attempt to claw back any gains we make.

    After all we had the right to recall labour MPs for while then came Blair ...

  32. RapidEddie

    This would all seem broadly to be true and it was necessary to detach people from their working class heritage and any notions which they might have that it was perfectly decent and something to be proud of in order to make them into insatiable consumers.

    One of the things many of us might be able to remember was pride in thrift and frugality and never getting into debt, which went hand-in-hand with hard work and good manners and such outdated nonsense.

    Obviously, thrift and making do and mending will never power a consumer, throw-away economy and being content to be ordinary will not help, when ambition is the key to drive people to demand more and remain forever unsatisfied with their lot, but hoping that buying things will fill an inner emptiness.

    Years ago, an article described mindless violence and drunkenness amongst the young in Newcastle. The writer said that at one time, young men would have felt pride in being ship-builders but they now had to be waiters.

    Politicians hate the working-classes because they are either fearful of what they might do or are themselves, like Thatcher, trying to disguise the tracks they have left behind which lead to their own ordinariness, when they are trying to scramble ever onwards and upwards to better things.

    They imagine everyone else is just the same, quivering with a terrible lust and ambition to present themselves as something special.

    The con has pretty much worked. Anyone now with a mortgage and car on tick and a credit card they cannot quite figure how to repay is firmly middle-class, even though they are two pay-cheques away from destitution.

    This is what I put on the MAM adulation thread, which seems appropriate:

    Thanks to MoveAnyMountain for illustrating that the liberal left can never quite manage to deploy its resources as effectively as the right, always resulting in coming an embarrassing second place, mainly through fear of laying itself open to the charge of having strong or real opinions about anything.

    Perhaps MoveAnyMountain could tell us why the sneering contempt and disgust with which the right views ordinary people is actually the same thing as the way the self-appointed liberal media spokespeople treat ordinary people as pets to be fondled and displayed for approval of how wonderfully right-on and right-minded they are, but are both, in fact, the result of ingrained fear of what the filthy poor would do if let loose and left to their own devices.

    Not so much the sound of applause (even one-handed) as the tiny popping of burst bubbles as CiF takes an early bath.

    Matt Seaton must be spitting.

  33. annetan42

    I agree and am glad that people have responded.

    I was not trying to knock andysays as he seems to have some good ideas and points to make.

    I tend to always think that those in power - across the world, not just funny little Britain - are there not through any great ability or conspiracy or ingrained or overarching system, but simple tenacity and a blinkered vision that they are going to get what they want by hook or by crook.

    The rest of us tend to argue and discuss and wonder whose toes we might step on or who we might upset or make tearful due to our actions and so become crippled and immobile through our own fear of what problems our clumsiness might cause.

    One set wins through complete indifference and lack of consideration, the other loses through too much solicitousness and protectiveness.

    Perhaps we are programmed to win or fail.

  34. Bloody great discussion here today and I'd dive in if I hadn't pretty much been on the piss since about 4.30 yesterday afternoon.


    We all give up because we cannot be guaranteed an easy win from the outset and someone in a position of authority might wag a severe finger in our faces and tell us off.

    I am an expert finger-wagger if counter-prevailing finger-waggers are needed at the barricades.

    RapidEddie - brilliant post.

  35. In those societies that do have better social equality - Scandinavia for example - how do they deal with the basic problem of not enough jobs of honest toil for families of generations of honest toilers?

    RapidEddie, speaking of Denmark, (although it applies more or less to all Scandinavia) the short and simple answer is that there are still enough such jobs (although of course the recession has had an effect recently) and people are still proud to do them. I think that a large factor is actually the tax system. Minimum rate is about 39% and increases rapidly. The tax-free allowance is comparable to the UK. On the other hand, the minimum wage is about £12. The lowest paid workers can actually have a half-decent lifestyle, even though the cost of living is relatively high. The benefit system, education, hospital system, transport etc is much better than the UK. Tax revenue invested in eg. infrastructure and education has made the Danish economy both robust and competitive with regards to both exports and internal businesses.

    It always confounds me that people in the UK want everything to be better, but are not prepared to pay for it. A higher minimum wage and much higher taxes for the well-off, higher corporate tax and a crackdown on tax evasion/avoidance would be a good start.

    Here's a link to an interesting site which might give food for thought. You will note that Denmark is still prospering in areas that the UK seems to have junked years ago, and has developed into new areas (eg. technology and pharmaceuticals) while half of Britain's GNP seems to to depend now on the euphemistically titled 'financial services'. You know, the guys who will run off squealing to Switzerland or somewhere if the government dares to ask them to pay a few pence more in tax.

    This is a complex problem, but I think it starts with the right philosophy (social equality included)of what a society should actually be. And here the UK is totally fucked.

  36. IMHO the people with power everywhere on the planet (you are right about that!) are not necesarily brighter or cleverer than everyone else they just happen to own the means of production. This allows them to wield power over elected governments and thus make a joke out democracy.

    I would say that this is the overarching system that governs the way the world works. The characteristics of the people at the top isn't important really. Wealthy people have everything they need and thus see no real need to change the system. Only those of us who are vulnerable 'two salaries away from destitution' as I think someone upthread said (can't find it now!) can be the agents of such a change as only they can see a reason for it.

    It doesn't matter if those at the top care or not (mostly I don't think they give a sh*t), it is the ecomic system that creates the situation. Or if you like the fact that the vast majority of people on this planet have no economic power.

    Fiddling with the system can give temporary relief (sometimes) but only changing the system will solve the problem.

  37. Eddie,

    really interesting post.

    Where the working/underclass find themself now can be answered in three years, 1979, 1979 and 1979.

    With the rise of Thatcher what Britain faced was a radical monetarist agenda underpinned and abetted by an archaic political system.

    The wholesale destruction of the industries was undertaken by a party with a mandate handed to them from the populous, service industry dominated South East. With FPTP Thatcher could unleash the radical agenda which would decimate the North of England, Scotland and Wales whilst benefitting the South East where she gained her support.

    The country was fed the constant diet that Industry isn't working, Service economy and privatisation is the way forward. From coal mining to shipbuilding we were told we were not competitive and therefore no Govt money was available.

    However, if I may use one example (albeit in my opinion an important one). I originally come from a town in the West of Scotland that was once the Shipbuilding capital of the world. From the 1960's to the early 80's Govt support was withdrawn as 'we can't compete with Asian shipbuilders for cost.'

    As a result the town is now a ghost town. What flabbergasted me is that in 2003 the 'Queen Mary 2' was built and launched from that renowned South Asian shipyard, erm, St Nazaire, France. Doubly galling for me was that the original Queen Mary was built in Clydebank.

    If the French can have a viable shipbuilding industry why can't we? Peter Bracken made an interesting post the other day about the French working class ability to fight for their rights.

    This is a perfect example and indicative of the diverging attitudes to manufacturing (where the working class traditionally operate) in two EU member states.

    The fact that Blair had to appeal to the South East to gain power highlights the fundamental problem of an archaic political system being abused by neo-liberals for the benefit of a tiny few.

    The working class/underclass are the prime victims of the toxic mix of the archaic and the radical.

  38. Scherfig,

    interesting example of Denmark. I posted yesterday on the Dutch Industrial Relations ethos in favour of worker empowerment and BB added that a similar system exists in France.

    With your example of Denmark, is it any wonder that the Tories are eurosceptics?

    They don't want the people finding out that in comparison with other states, the workers here are being shafted left right and centre purely for extra profit for the shareholders.

  39. Oi, Duke, there's a strong argument that Belfast was the shipbuilding capital of the world.

    Other than that, good points.

  40. thauma,

    if the Titanic had been built in Clydebank rather than Belfast it would have taken a nuclear armed FLOTILLA of icebergs to sink it (as my old Grandad used to say) ;)

  41. Rubbish, Duke, it weren't the shipbuilders wot sunk 'er! Clearly 'twere the management skimping on the plans.

  42. Yo, I'm back, frikken traffic on the M1 - four hours from heathrow to the midlands just now. Grr. What's been happening this week ? Apart from RappidEddies post, which is pretty damn good ;-) And who the FUCK ordered this snow ?

  43. the workers here are being shafted left right and centre purely for extra profit for the shareholders.

    That's about it in a nutshell, Duke. And it seems to me now (I blame Thatcher, btw), that so many in the UK are, to a frighteneing degree, old-fashioned 'Little Englanders'. Well, that ship has fucking sailed and the economic safety net of the old Empire has long gone. Time to embrace the 21st century, although I suspect that it's about 60 years too late now.

  44. thauma,

    Big Business (white star line) scrimps on safety in order to increase shareholder profit?

    Who'd a thunk it?

  45. Midlands, BW? You up for drinkies this week or next? Can't find any other bastard who wants to get together in a decent place.

  46. Scherfig,

    and interestingly which European states suffered the most during the recession?

    The Anglo Saxon economic model states of the UK and Republic of Ireland and the Eastern European neo-lib '1990-92 economic shock therapy' states.

  47. if the Titanic had been built in Clydebank rather than Belfast

    Steady on, Duke. The Titanic had two sister ships, and they both done good! OK, one sank during WW1, but that was a German mine's fault. The other was nicknamed 'Old Reliable'. If those three ships had been built on Clydebank, they might not even have made it out of dry-dock. :0)

  48. Go-orn, Scherf!

    Did you see Leinster take apart the Scarlets today? Would have watched Ulster, but match postponed due to weather.

  49. psst, scherf - Samson & Goliath. Bet those Clydebank sissies don't even know what that means.

  50. thaumaturge
    Yeh, could well be - I'm in Northampton. What do you know ??

  51. scherf,

    I'm only jesting! The fact an Island nation of Britain's history no longer has a viable shipbuilding industry either in Belfast or the Clyde ot Newcastle or Barrow in Furness etc is indicative of the manufacturing morass it finds itself in.

  52. BW - I'm near Leamington Spa / Warwick. I think Hank is in the Nottingham area too?

    Might be able to track down some musical events of some friends around here....

  53. Aha, the Scot admits defeat! ;-)

  54. Yeh, I think that's were brother Hank resides. Nice one thauma, keep me posted... Off to get in front of the fire now, the house is pretty cold ! Laters.

  55. I agree with you there, Duke, but although the Danish shipbuilding industry is more or less gone now for the same reasons of SE Asia competition, they received a hell of a lot of government support and financial backing. They also exported know-how and technology to eg. Korea and Vietnam, and now they're building windmills instead. You gotta move with the times, and have a government that cares more about workers than corporate profits (although the two need not always be mutually exclusive, there can be a balance).

  56. thauma,

    where did I concede?! If it's like that then, 5 of the 6 Battleships involved in the sinking of the Bismarck were Clyde Built.

    Come on then.

  57. Duke, there were 18 shipbuilding companies in Belfast, all living in a shoebox in the middle of the road. You Scots softies wouldn't begin to understand.

  58. Well, as I've said many times before: I'll be happy to be at the barricades with you all, but someone's going to have to figure out a way of getting my son & I over there first.

    I agree completely that something drastic needs to happen to get rid of this corporatist hell that we're living in. I believe that it is possible for this to happen in Britain, but never here. Even though, in theory, the American state does not (as Andy says above) exist, "to serve the interests of American capitalism, etc, etc.", but rather, to protect the rights of the individual, most Americans have become so thoroughly brainwashed in the notion that corporate profits take primacy over the general welfare of the workforce, that I don't think it would ever happen here.

    The scale of this place makes it much more difficult, as well. Those few of us who might want to take direct action are hindered by geography as well as attitudes.

    And there's the fact that Britain still has nationalised health care and has had things like nationalised rail service and people know how beneficial they can be. For Americans, these are ideas that have never been experienced. They are ideas that have the vague (not so vague to the more ignorant) whiff of that evil thing called 'socialism' that we were all taught to hate from an early age.

    I used to consider myself a pacifist, but I don't any more. I still think that passive resistance is preferable to violence but, I've come to the conclusion that violence may well be the only way that we're ever going to take back what ought to be ours.

  59. And English, of course, Sorry, to the Tyne, Mersey etc for the oversight, (but youze were'nt fightin' like Duke and thaum were.)

  60. Thauma, scherfig, Duke: Surely the shipbuilders of both Clydebank and Belfast were hard-working, honourable men and we can all agree that the English are bastards?


  61. Montana, I always found the American insistence on its 'rugged individualism' to be a bit strange, as from my experience, most Americans appeared to be ruggedly trying to conform with the status quo. I find that countries that have a much more socialistic ethos actually have a much greater incidence of real individualism.

    The UK has much more real individualism than the US, in my opinion, but is far behind most contintental European countries. (Or Latin American, if it comes to that.)

  62. thauma,

    I'll see your 18 and raise you 24 shipbuilding companies in 1960.

    And speaking of 1960, we also have the 1960 Oscar for best documentary, Seawards the great ships

    And Montana, you may have a point... :)

  63. Scherfig - I thought you wuz one of us. Traitor. :-(

    Montana - oh, absolutely! :-) But don't forget the wimmenz - I'm sure there were wimmenz in shipbuilding....

  64. Wybourne - I made up the 18 number, and no doubt the real number is something more like 200.

  65. easy, thauma, I know that we had the biggest cranes in the world. Pearls before swine and all that.

    samson and goliath

  66. Oh yes, thauma -- that's one of the reasons why I want to get the hell out of this place. Even in a 'progressive' city like Seattle, what passes for non-conformity is really just conforming to a slightly different set of rules. You've got to be part of some herd or other here.

    Didn't mean to slight the wimmenz of shipbuilding. Oops.

  67. :-( Only UK schools, colleges, universities and libraries can watch the clip from the shipbuilding movie.

  68. Montana - well, in Belfast, I'm not sure if there were wimmenz, but there certainly wuznt Cafflicks back in the day.

    Scherfig - that pic is lovely indeed, but doesn't quite illustrate how they dominate the Belfast skyline.

  69. What about the wimmenz? What about this chick?

    Rosie the Riveter

  70. Yeah, much better, thauma, but we don't want Duke to feel 'inadequate', do we? :0)

  71. Scherf, I think Rosie was a Yank, but I could be wrong.

    Yes, it's best not to antagonise the Scots. As PG Wodehouse said, "It is seldom difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine," or something similar.

  72. I believe that Rosie was originally from Noo Joisey, but she's still a shipbuilding sistah.

  73. Rosie was actually a marvellous piece of propaganda that did wonders for the women's movement. The men were off at war, and it got the women into the industrial plants, realising that they could do "men's" jobs - although, of course, not at the same pay.

    Of course, when the men returned from war, some of the women got a bit uppity about having to surrender their jobs and independence.

  74. Goddam, I'm being subjugated by the UT Matriarchy. About shipbuilding.

    This is 100% identity issue CiF gold. I'll be back in 5 I'm just off to email Matt Seaton with an ATL proposal.....

  75. Duke - you is pwned. :-p

    Give Matt my regards.

  76. Come on, Duke, you've read the numerous posts on Cif from Bitey and Bru. You know that we're all rabid misogynists here. Pull up a chair, put your feet up, light up a spliff. It's a very safe place for men. Even the women hate women here.
    (And isn't matriarchy some sort of knitting pattern?)

  77. Too true, scherf, I forgot about my self-hating misogyny side.

  78. Aargh. The sprog's gone to his grandparents' for awhile, so I'd better capitalise on the opportunity to get his presents bought. Wish me luck. Hate that damn store (Wal-Mart -- the only place in town to buy stuff for him) at the best of times. Saturday pm right before Christmas, the place is going to be a fucking nightmare.

  79. Even the women hate women here.

    Yep. We're all self-hating man-worshippers.

  80. My sympathies, Montana - couldn't face it myself.

  81. Just got an out of office reply saying:

    ''Sorry we are out of the office at the moment.

    If you have a request to go ATL on the topic of the emascualtion of Shipbuilding man, please bear in mind that as this will be a predominantly working class article, we have nary the motivation nor the inclination to publish it. So bugger off riff raff ''

    There you are, I guess I'll just have to stick around here.

  82. Duke, instead of pitching the article as 'the emascualtion of Shipbuilding man', why not pitch it as the 'empowerment of women in the modern shipbuilding industry'? (Although don't mention that the UK doesn't have shipbuilding any more.) Perhaps you should also mention Korea and Lithuania. And write under a pseudonym with a mysterious silhouette as your pic. Matt loves all that shit.

  83. My dear duke,

    That doesn't sound very Grauniesque at all, and I suggest that you sent it to a spoofed e-mail address. Because the reply I got read:

    Sorry, old bean, we are all attending our Oxbridge reunions at the moment.

    We are currently under consultation on the possibility of discussing the shipbuilding industry on Cif. Our advisory panel includes Lord Mandleson of Foy & etc. as well as our experts in the subject, Julie Bindel, Polly Toynbee and Bidisha, so one may be assured that the subject is being treated by our most experienced columnists.

    Please continue to read Cif in the next few days to understand how you should think of this matter.

  84. 'Ships - are they not much more than just large metal phallic symbols? It's now time for Obama to stop building and start talking. And women are with him on this!'

    By Anna Shapiro. (The first in a long series of articles on how heavy industry post 9/11 has marginalised its most valuable assets.)

  85. and ps: I'm up all night worrying about how Obama is going to deal with feminist issues in the now non-existent ship-building industry in the West.

  86. scherf,thauma,

    I sometimes wonder if the two of you are not actually Cif editors in disguise...!

    Had a quick look on Waddya, there's an extremely interesting post from 'radicalpete' about the shenanigans of his local housing association.

  87. Duke - bite your tongue, you evil-thinking man!

    Am trawling through some Waddya, although I'm very close to bedtime so may not get to yer mate.

  88. I'm late to today's party, it seems. Christ, Christmas shopping is bad news, isn't it? Tat to the left of you, shite to the right, with penury straight ahead.

  89. By the way,fair play to Gareth Thomas, shouldn't be a talking point (we should be beyond that) but some will make it so.Still don't like him as a player,though: always thought he was a bit snide and nasty, getting in unnecessary digs.

  90. Christmas shopping as yet unstarted. Had to be put on hold today as #2 child, having been invited to Christmas Disney-themed party & (as usual) having done bugger-all about a costume, needed inspiration with an hour to go... (4m of lime-green material will transform even a 17 yr-old boy into Flubber!)

    Sheff - hope you have a lovely time. Sounds fantastic.